2 Week Testing Pilot and BinaxNOW Test Cards

November 20th, 2020 – The State of New Jersey Department of Health will soon formally announce an upcoming initiative and pilot program set to launch on November 30th to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living facilities. The pilot program will make use of the BinaxNOWTM COVID-19 Ag test card to allow for rapid testing.

Aculabs has been selected to assist with the distribution of the BinaxNOWTM COVID-19 Ag test cards. These test cards are not for sale – Aculabs is simply distributing the test cards on behalf of the NJ Department of Health’s Office of Emergency Management. We anticipate receipt of the cards early next week pending state rollout. 

Click here for protocol information when using the BinaxNOWTM COVID-19 Ag test card.

Updated Safety Precautions and Testing of Aculabs Technicians

Following the launch of the BinaxNOW pilot program on November 30th, the New Jersey Department of Health also released a new Executive Directive for routine testing of healthcare personnel who go into long-term care facilities.

The following excerpt outlines the standards for facility staff, other healthcare personnel who enter the facility, and visitors to the facility, specifying the length which a negative result via BinaxNOW test card can be used to enter a facility:

During the testing pilot, staff who are scheduled to work three or more consecutive days are to be tested every other day using BinaxNOW tests. Other staff are to be tested every other day, or their next shift when 48 hours have passed since their last test. This requirement supersedes the weekly ​staff testing protocol previously established, until the facility runs out of BinaxNow tests or by December 14, whichever comes first.

Facilities also must test any visitor entering the facility with an FDA approved or authorized Point of Care (POC) test, unless the visitor can provide proof of a negative POC test collected and performed in the past 24 hours.  Emergency Medical Services personnel are exempted during an emergency situation.

– “New Jersey Department of Health Launches Increased Testing Pilot at Long-term Care Facilities”

Aculabs engaging additional testing centers

Currently, Aculabs processes a limited number of tests in house – roughly 200 per day – while the majority of our samples are sent to LabCorp. Starting November 23rd, 2020, Aculabs is engaging an additional testing center to help combat some of the delays in reporting, by way of LabCorp, we have been experiencing.  

To that end, Aculabs will have 2 avenues for testing, internally and via reference lab. Aculabs has available large, red specimen bags that do not feature a biohazard symbol on them. Clients can use these bags, in addition to the test code 3991 (CORONAVIRUS COVID-2 [SWAB]) AND the test code HAUS, to indicate that they wish to have priority testing performed on their specimen.

We ask that facilities use this service only in emergency situations as our current internal testing capacity is limited. All other testing will be sent to one of our two reference laboratories for analysis.

Medicare’s change in payment methodology and its impact on testing

At its inception, CMS created CPT code U0003 – originally set at $51.31 and increased to $100.00 in April of 2020. In an October 15, 2020 notice, Medicare announced plans to change the pricing methodology for rt-PCR for SARS CoV-2. The notice outlines a new payment model effective January 1, 2021, in which the base price for U0003 will be lowered to $75 and an additional CPT code (U0005) can be billed when more than 50% of the laboratory’s U0003 tests have resulted within 2 calendar days from the date of collection.

When placing laboratory orders, it is imperative that the proper collection date/time be indicated on the order. We have noticed many facilities placing orders on Day 1 (using Day 1 as the collection date), collecting samples on Day 2, and then calling for pick up on Day 3. This is cause for concern as the Collection Date/Time is not accurately reflected on the Online Order.

When assuming this method, be sure to use Day 2 as the Collection Date rather than Day 1.

Click here for a video tutorial on ensuring Collection Date information is correct.

Aculabs evaluation of high capacity, high throughput Antigen Testing

Governor Murphy authorized Antigen testing as a suitable alternative to rt-PCR on October 21st, 2020.

Aculabs is in the process of evaluating two methods of antigen testing. This will reduce turnaround time by eliminating the need to send specimens to another laboratory and allow facilities the ability to respond more quickly to a potential CoV-2 outbreak. Please stay tuned for more information.